County said it would not appeal decision
By Chris Fish
BREVARD -- A Brevard County judge denied a lawsuit to halt the closure of three local schools filed by the County Commissioners and Titusville City Council against the Brevard County School Board.
On Monday, April 15, Eighteenth Circuit Judge George Maxwell said the suit filed by the county and city did not meet the legal criteria necessary for a temporary injunction.
The Brevard County Board of County Commissioners opted against appealing Judge Maxwell's decision, and instead said it would pursue a conflict resolution process with the School Board, in which the board's decision to close the schools would be discussed.
The lawsuit was filed in an attempt to halt the closings of Gardendale Elementary on Merritt Island, South Lake Elementary in Titusville and Clearlake Middle in Cocoa, which are all scheduled to close at the end of the school year in an attempt to save $3 million of a $30 million budgetary woe for the school district.
The suit filed by the county and city argued that the School Board violated an interlocal agreement, stating the board must consult with the county and cities before voting on school closures.
In the proceeding, Judge Maxell said the Capital Outlay Committee, which is a board of county, city and school district planners, has no authority to overturn the school district's decision for closure, rather it is intended to be viewed as an advisor.
In an email, Michelle Irwin, director of district communication for the Brevard County Public School District, said the board is pleased with the result.
"We are pleased with the decision," she said. "Since we still (have a) continued litigation in progress, this is all we can say at this time."
The school district is also currently involved in a second lawsuit, which claims that low-income and minority students will be disproportionally impacted by the closures. A hearing for the case is scheduled for May 22.
Michelle Speisman, founder of Save Brevard Public Schools, said the group is disappointed with Judge Maxwell's decision.
"The decision on Monday was disappointing, but the civil rights lawsuit has yet to be determined, however, and that has a different basis," she said. "The next move for parents is working to get a mechanism in place that will give citizens an avenue for recourse when the School Board does not follow its own policies and acts in a way counter to the good of our schools and communities."